Cannes Film Market: Attendance Stable, Events Buoyant

Netflix’s Sarandos, China Summit and Investors Club among highlights

CANNES — Attendance at 2015’s Cannes Film Market looks to be around 12,000 participants, on a broad par with 2014, which set the all-time record. In other ways, however, this year’s Marché du Film (MDF) has grown dramatically, with its first China Summit and inaugural Cannes Investors Club, and the consolidation of its second year of NEXT, a future of cinema focus, and Cannes Mixers, targeted networking events.

The U.S. presence was slightly up, China stable, said Cannes Film Market exec director Jerome Paillard. Cannes’ biggest territorial participation surge, up 10% in 2014, 15% this year — came from South Korea, already up in 2014, reportedly due to the launch of new distribution outfits, followed by Brazil, where international promo org Cinema do Brasil aids Cannes attendance.

“Sellers also said Korea was one of the countries where sales were most robust and prices are increasing,” Paillard commented. Colombia and Brazil both saw robust acquisitions, he added.

The biggest film industry gathering on Earth, and the only one attended by more or less the totality of the world’s independent film industry, the MDF has the possibility of getting into the same room over six days in May, an extraordinary caliber of panelists at contrasting events.

To explain the intricacies of the China market, which grew 36% in 2014 thanks in part to the addition of 5,000 new screens, the China Summit panel, Chinese Film Market Overview, on Monday featured speakers included Jeffrey Chan from Bona Film Group; Lin Ning from WeChat Movies; Chen Sijie from SMG Pictures, one of the largest companies in China; and Cary Cheng from Wanda.

High-caliber Cannes Investors Club speakers included John Sloss, Gabriel Hammond, Vincent Grimond, Rena Ronson and David Linde.

Of other speakers, “A highlight for us was to have Ted Sarandos of Netflix ‘In  Conversation’ for NEXT. Netflix is one of the companies making the future of cinema, and it is important to hear first-­hand how they are going about it,” Paillard said.

New and returning pavilions in 2015 included Iran and Japan. The overall number of territories participating saw a four-country uptick, up to 120, with Afghanistan and Nepal joining attendees.

“The international pavilions each year provide registered badge holders with the opportunity to go on a global tour of the film industry, right here at the International Village.

The Marché is not only the biggest industry gathering of the year but also the most global,” said Maud Amson, head of sales and operations.

Speaking Thursday at Cannes, Jerome Paillard, MDF exec director, confirmed that, beyond the Cannes Film Market’s Producers’ Network and Producers’ Workshop, which were fully booked, the Marché would look to repeat the genre and encounter festival programmers and a genre-centered Fantastic Mixer, which began to run last year.

“A NEXT panel on how festivals function as distributors and the Festival Mixer” were “incredibly popular,” Paillard said. “These days, festivals are really, really important, not only for glamour but sales, and it’s often where a film will be seen in a theater. Festivals are now part of the market.”

About 80% of market titles were world premieres. With 1,500 films screening this year, the MDF added nine screens at the Olympia to its screen park.

As production levels show so little sign of plunging in emerging markets, and the number of internationally ambitious young producers grows inexorably, the industry urgently needs filtering, networking and knowledge input, which the Cannes Marche is supplying.

Documentaries make up around 16% of market titles — hence the Cannes Film Market’s Doc Corner. “Documentary filmmakers find having such a dedicated space within the market a huge plus, as do buyers, sellers and programmers,” said Julie Bergeron, head of industry rograms.

Per Paillard, the Cannes Film Market would look to build its viral reach, interacting during the Festival with people around the world. It has started to film conferences.

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